In most cases, Kargo Master's S-Series and A-Series van ladder racks look identical, so how do you know which one is best for what your business needs?

Is one stronger? Is one lighter? Why is there a price difference, and does that mean the more affordable rack is somehow inferior?

Let's take into consideration what we know about the two metals first:

  • Steel is typically dense and hard
  • Steel is heavy
  • When not properly protected, steel can rust
  • Aluminum is typically light and malleable
  • Aluminum is naturally rust resistant without any protective coating or treatment

So, if aluminum is lighter and more malleable, does that mean that Kargo Master's aluminum racks will bow or bend with heavy materials and ladders on them?

The simple answer is: no.

Below is a couple of simulations that show the strength of the materials: on the left, a 12 x 8 sheet of steel and on the right, a 12 x 8 sheet of aluminum. The aluminum sheet is approximately 50% thicker than the steel (which is similar to the thickness ratio between S-Series and A-Series racks). The simulation shows 1,000 lbs of force being applied equally across the surfaces. The aluminum is just as strong, if not stronger than the steel counterpart.

Kargo Master's A-Series racks are made with T6 Aircraft Aluminum. It is an aluminum alloy, meaning it isn't "pure" aluminum. It contains small amounts of other metals to strengthen it without sacrificing the convenience of it being lightweight.

The A-Series racks are also a bit thicker than the steel counterparts to ensure additional strength. At the end of the day, the A-Series racks are just as strong as the S-Series. In fact, with either option, when loading heavy materials on top of your van, it's the van's roof that will give and cave in before the rack ever will. This is why we always recommend consulting your vehicle's owners manual to find the weight capacity of your roof before carrying large, heavy ladders and materials.

For help with finding the right ladder rack for your vehicle, call our customer service team at (800) 533-7722.

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